Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Shop Talk

Brian K. Vaughan, comic book writing hero and one of the principal writers for Lost, talks about making art. Lots of good, common sense stuff for anyone trying to make any kind of art--writing or drawing or music or whatever. Some nice moments:

"You can take all the classes in the world and read every book on the craft out there, but at the end of the day, writing is sorta like dieting. There are plenty of stupid fads out there and charlatans promising quick fixes, but if you want to lose weight, you have to exercise more and eat less. Period. Every writer has 10,000 pages of shit in them, and the only way your writing is going to be any good at all is to work hard and hit 10,001.

(And this isn't just some tired cliche, I believe that's a provable mathematical equation. I started writing five pages a day, every single day, when I began my senior year of high school. That means I hit 10,001 roughly a year after I graduated NYU, which was exactly when I pitched Y: THE LAST MAN to Vertigo. It took a lot of lousy writing to get there, but I'm glad I stuck with it. And don't worry, if you were busy actually having a life in high school and college, it's never too late to begin your march towards 10,001. Most writers don't do their best work until they're in their thirties and forties, anyway. Still, the clock is ticking, so maybe you old-timers should consider writing seven pages a day?)"

I love that he says most writers don't do their best work until their in their thirties and forties. I feel like so much of today's culture is focused on who the next young, big thing is that we forget about people who have been working hard all along.

"And that's the maddening thing about comics. It's not like becoming a dentist, where everyone attends the same amount of courses and takes the same kinds of tests to get where they want to be. No two people ever break into our medium in the same way."

Sometimes I wish I were a dentist because of this. But it's how the writing game goes.

"And trust me, breaking in is not half as hard as STAYING in. For every comic that came out with my name on it, there were a dozen pitches that never saw the light of day."

Even well-respected writers have their failure days. Don't give up hope!